San Francisco Giants: Why Sending Down Michael Kickham Will Backfire on Them

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February 20, 2013; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Michael Kickham (84) poses for a picture during photo day at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco isn’t laden with top-flight prospects, and with an injury to Santiago Casilla, the bullpen lacks depth. Without another reliable option, the Giants’ decision seems a bit questionable.

The bullpen has done well, but it could get overworked. Bochy isn’t likely to break up the bullpen and rearrange roles, even though he did it last year. The Giants adopted a closer-by-committee format in 2012, but there were two months remaining. With four months remaining in the season, changing roles isn’t a likely option.

In other words, the Giants will need someone to step up from the minors.

If the Giants can obtain a long reliever soon, Gaudin could take over one of the rotation spots. If the team adds a starter, Gaudin could settle in as the long reliever while Loux, Kickham and Heston continue to develop in the minors.

However, teams know that the Giants are in hot water, and that could lead them to ramp up their trade demands. That would delay any move the Giants want to make, and it would shrink the probability of the Giants making a trade. Making a trade takes time, and obviously, no trade happens instantly.

Gaudin is more experienced than Kickham, and he’s currently a better pitcher. However, the decision to send Kickham down remains questionable. Kickham entered the clubhouse riding the hot hand, and he showed promise for the present and the future in his first start.

If Kickham had stayed, he would have calmed down, as nerves would have impacted him less and less. This would have led to better pitching, which is all the Giants want right now.

Loux didn’t exactly shine in 2012 with the Giants, as his ERA was 4.97. Unless the Giants can pull off a trade quickly and allow Gaudin to fill a huge void in the rotation, this decision seems odd.

Kickham has great stuff, and giving him some experience now would allow him to prepare for seizing a rotation spot in 2014, when Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong could all be gone. The 33-year old Loux isn’t a long-term answer, and Heston simply isn’t ready.

In other words, Kickham is the best option for the present and the future, and the fact that the Giants sent him down is a bit surprising. Don’t be surprised if this decision backfires on the team.